PELOPONNESE

The Peloponnese is a peninsula in southern Greece that covers an area of some 21,549.6 square kilometres (8,320.3 sq mi) and constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893, like other peninsulas that have been separated from their mainland by man-made bodies of waters, it is rarely, if ever, referred to as an “island”. It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth, and an artificial one by the Rio-Antirio bridge (completed 2004). During the late Middle Ages and the Ottoman era, the peninsula was known as the Morea name still in colloquial use in its demotic form. It was here that the Greek War of Independence began in 1821.

NAFPLION

One of the most beautiful towns in the area of Argolis (located in eastern Peloponnese) as well as one of the most romantic cities all over Greece, Nafplion was the first capital of the newly born Greek state between 1823 and 1834. According to mythology, the town was founded by Náfplios, the son of god Poseidon.

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Ancient walls, medieval castles, monuments and statues. In the very heart of the city stands the Italianate Syntagma Square where you can admire important historic buildings and monuments. Very close to the modern city stand the church of Agios Spyridonas, in front of which first Greek Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias was assassinated. Palamidi Castle is one of the most interesting sites in Nafplion as it is the place where the famous hero of the Greek Revolution Theodore Kolokotronis had been imprisoned. It proudly stands 2

kalamata

KALAMATA

Kalamata is the second most populous city of the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. The capital and chief port of the Messenia regional unit, it lies along the Nedon River at the head of the Messenian Gulf. The 2011 census recorded 69,849 inhabitants for the wider Kalamata Municipality. Kalamata is renowned as the land of the Kalamatianos dance and Kalamata olives. Kalamata was the first city to be liberated as the Greeks rose in the Greek War of Independence. On 23 March 1821, it was taken over by the Greek revolutionary forces.In independent Greece, Kalamata was rebuilt and became one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean sea.

It is not surprising that the second-oldest Chamber of Commerce in the Mediterranean, after that of Marseille, exists in Kalamata. There are numerous historical and cultural sights in Kalamata, such as the Villehardouin castle, the Ypapanti Byzantine church, Benakeion Archaeological Museum

diros

Dyros caves

The famous Alepotripa and Vlichada caves are located in Pirgos Diros. They were explored by the speleologists Ioannis and Anna Petrochilos. The Alepotrypa cavern was discovered in 1958. Archaeological research begun in 1970 under the direction of archaeologist Georgios Papathanassopoulos. The richness and quality of the unearthed findings witness the existence of a populous society in Alepotripa. The passageways of Alepotrypa, decorated with stalagmites and stalactites, measure 500 m in length. The central cave ends in a very beautiful lake attaining a maximum depth of 6 m. The cave is not open to the public, yet.

The cave of Vlychada covers an area of 16,700 m2 and since 1949 about 2,800 water passages have been explored. A 2.5-km-long winding passageway is the main route for sightseeing. During a 40-min boat trip, the visitor comes across an intricate network of passages and galleries, decorated with gleaming stalagmites and stalactites, whose reflection in the water accentuates their natural beauty. The guided tour into the cavern of Vlychada takes place by boat and on foot – part of it is on land

Ancient Olympia

The archaeological site of Olympia

Ancient Olympia is the archaeological site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. It is the site where the Olympic flame is rekindled and carried to the next game’s host site every four years. The Olympic Games were held at this site until 393 BC when the emperor prohibited pagan festivals and eventually ordered the temples to be destroyed. In the 6th century, earthquakes completed the ravages of man and successive floods gradually buried what was left of the sacred land, preserving it until archaeologists brought it back to life in 1875. You will view the Temple of Zeus, where a gold and ivory statue of the god once stood. The statue, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was crafted by the great sculptor Pheidias. The original was 44 feet high and lavishly decorated with Zeus on a throne of ivory and gold, holding a Statue of Nike in his right hand, and a scepter with an eagle in his left. You will also see the Heraion or Temple of Hera, wife of Zeus and you will step through the gate onto the floor of the original stadium, which could hold 20,000 spectators to witness contests ranging from foot races to the pentathlon, and after nearly 1,500 years, the 2004 Olympic Games held the shot-put contest. Moreover, you will also see the Shrine of Pelops, one of the oldest in the Sanctuary, the Council House, where the athletes took the Olympic oath, the Treasuries, the Palaestra, and Gymnasium.

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In the museum, artifacts from the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus are on display, unearthed in over a century of excavation. You will view two rich pediments from the Temple of Zeus, the long triangular groups that appeared just below the peaked roof, depicting scenes commemorating Pelops’ chariot race and illustrating the mythical war between the Centaurs and the Lapiths. Moreover, you will find a unique collection of Greek sculpture, including the famous Hermes of Praxiteles, one of the masterpieces of ancient Greek art. Hermes, as Pausanias informs us, is depicted carrying the infant. Dionysos. Made from Parian marble, it stands 2,10m in height. Furthermore, Nike of Paionios will be found in the museum. The statue depicts a winged woman. Nike, cut from Parian marble, has a height of 2,15m, but with the tips of her (now broken) wings would have reached 3m.

EPIDA

Epidaurus

In a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, developed out of a much earlier cult of Apollo, during the 6th century BC at the latest, as the official cult of the city state of Epidaurus. The theatre, an architectural masterpiece by Polycletes the Younger of Argos, represents a unique artistic achievement through its admirable integration into the site and the perfection of its proportions and acoustics. The superb acoustics as well as the very well preserved construction, contributed to the creation of Epidaurus Festival S.A., an institution that contributed to the cultural revival of the theatre.

Mycenae

The charming and peaceful land of Argolida holds, within the bowels of its earth, one of the most important civilizations ever to see the light of day: the Mycenaean civilization. Mycenae ‘Rich in Gold’, the kingdom of mythical Agamemnon, the Achaean king who sacked the city of Troy, first sung by Homer in his epics, is the most important and richest palatial centre of the Late Bronze Age in Greece. Palatial complexes, Cyclopean masonry which is awe-inspiring even today, the famous “Tomb of Agamemnon” (also known as the “Treasury of Atreus”), huge arches, fountains and ramparts comprise one of the greatest architectural complexes known to the ancient world.

ΜΥΚΗΝΕΣ

The decline of Mycenae occurred around 1100 BC, possibly due to repeated damage from earthquakes and fires. They had managed, however, to have once been a truly great empire, which has indelibly stamped its reputation on the history not only of Greece, but the entire world.